AppSync 3.8 is GA, Here’s What’s New

We have just released the long awaited 3.8 version of AppSync

AppSync is a software that enables Integrated Copy Data Management (iCDM) with Dell EMC’s primary storage systems.

AppSync simplifies and automates the process of generating and consuming copies of production data. By abstracting the underlying storage and replication technologies,

and through deep application integration, AppSync empowers application owners to satisfy copy demand for operational recovery and data repurposing on their own. In

turn, storage administrators need only be concerned with initial setup and policy management, resulting in an agile, frictionless environment.

AppSync automatically discovers application databases, learns the database structure,and maps it through the virtualization layer to the underlying storage LUN. It then orchestrates all the activities required from copy creation and validation through

mounting at the target host and launching or recovering the application. Supported workflows also include refresh, expire, and restore production.

AppSync supports the following applications and storage arrays:

l Applications — Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, VMware VMFS datastores, VMware NFS datastores, and Windows, Unix, and NFS File systems.

l Storage — VMAX, VMAX 3, VMAX All Flash, PowerMax, VNX (Block and File), VNXe (Block and File), XtremIO, ViPR Controller, VPLEX, Dell SC (Block only), and Unity (Block and File).

l Replication Technologies—VNX Advanced Snapshots, VNXe Unified Snapshot, TimeFinder Clone, TimeFinder VP Snap, SRDF, SnapVX, RecoverPoint Bookmarks, XtremIO Virtual Copies, Unity Unified Snapshot, Unity Thin Clone, Dell SC Series Snapshots, and ViPR Snapshot.

The AppSync Support Matrix is the authoritative source of information on supported software and platforms.

What’s New

AppSync 3.8 includes the following new features and enhancements:

Unity enhancements:

Create and manage remote copies of applications that reside on Unity Block storage using Unity replication. Supported only on Unity 4.2 and later.

Ability to run Silver and Gold service plans, allowing copies of the application to be created on the remote array (Silver service plan), or simultaneously on the local and remote arrays (Gold service plan).

Supports both asynchronous and synchronous replication modes.

Ability to repurpose a remote copy.

XtremIO enhancements:

Create and manage remote copies of applications that reside on XtremIO block storage, using XtremIO native replication. Supported only on XtremIO 6.1 and later.

Ability to run Silver service plans, allowing copies of application to be created on a remote array.

Ability to repurpose a remote copy, for making it a useable copy on the remote array.

Service plan copies are now created as immutable read-only snapshots for better protection. Mounting a copy of these, will result in a new read-write copy taken of the read-only copy. Supported only on XtremIO 6.1 and later.

Provides an option to use the modified read-write copy or the original read-only copy for copy restore.

XtremIO X2 Native Replication

•Ability to create local or remote XtremIO X2 copies with an existing Native Replication configuration

–The remote replication session must be in an active state

Lets dive deeper into this use case and why it’s so important for both physical and virtual (vSphere based) environments, lets assume you are running XIOS 6.1 with XtremIO Native Replication (NR) and you are replicating a consistency group (CG) which contains two volumes that were formatted as datastores, say with a 5 minutes RPO, XtremIO NR will copy the data in a crash-consistency manner, ok, that’s great but now lets assume that some of your VMs are running databases or Active-Directory domain controllers, all of these can benefit from using VMware tools to achieve application-consistency snapshots and this is where AppSync comes in

AppSync can be used in conjunction to XtremIO NR to generate application level consistency using either the VMware tools or it’s own agent (for MS-SQL and Oracle DBs), so using my example, you can use NR to take a crash level consistent snapshot every 5 minutes and use AppSync (on the same replication session) to take an application consistent snapshot once a day

You can identify the crash from the application consistent snapshots using the XMS UI

Crash consistent snapshots will look like [Snapshot…] and the application consistent snapshots will have the vCenter tag (identified in purple in the screenshot above), they will also have the session name suffix in them, you can of course use the AppSync UI to see that as well (see the below screenshot)

–AppSync creates a local bookmark and the XtremIO policy ships it across, deleting the local bookmark once complete

Bronze(local) or silver(remote) service plans and local or remote repurposing copies

•The ability to restore from the local side if the application is on an XtremIO CG with a remote protection session configured

–Restore from bronze copies will fail if the source volume has an “active” session at the remote site

–Manual steps required to restore in such a scenario:

Terminate the remote protection session

Perform restore operation from AppSync

Start the remote protection session

The second use case is an highly requested one, use the DR site data as a development environment, so using the logic below, Appsync will use the XtremIO NR snapshots, these snapshots will be at a read-only state at the DR site (unless you of course failover or test failover them), take a snapshot from there which will be a writable one and use these snapshots for your development environment that just happen to act as your DR site for these dark days..this way, your ROI on the DR site is much higher!

Limitations and Restrictions

•At the time of GA release, one XMS managing both local and remote arrays has not been formally qualified –each need their own XMS

•This release does not support “Gold” service plans -simultaneous local and remote copies

•This release does not support restoring the remote copy

•Replication sessions are managed at the CG level, and a CG can have only one replication session

•Only one remote(silver) copy can be mounted per remote protection session, because only one bookmark can be enabled at any one point in time on an XtremIO CG with remote protection configured.

–This does not apply to either generation repurposed copies -they utilize a snapshot set created from a bookmark, not the bookmark itself

•A LUN can be part of only one replication session -If a single LUN is part of two CGs:

Only one of those CGs can have a replication session and that CG with the replication session is selected by AppSync for all remote operations

–AppSync will use volume based API’s for all local operations, which might have a performance drawback with repurpose use cases. Hence it is suggested to have all the LUN’s of an application in a single CG.

•Replication sessions must be configured in a 1:1 fashion –one session cannot have multiple targets

XtremIO XIOS 6.1 Behavior Changes

•AppSync’s Protection/Service Plan Workflows:

–RO snaps are now created when using AppSync’s service plan/protection workflows

›When mounting: AppSync internally creates RW snaps for the corresponding RO snaps, and uses them to mount and recover the application. The RW snap is maintained on array even if the copy is unmounted, and reutilized if the same copy is again mounted. This way, the changes on the mounted copy are retained.

On Expire: Both the RO & RW snaps are deleted on the array.

When restoring: AppSync provides an option to allow for either the modified RW copy or the original RO copy to be used

•AppSync’s Repurposing Workflows:

–RW snaps (using CG APIs from XtremIO) are created when source LUNs are in the same CG

This is similar to how they are created with pre-AppSync 3.8 and pre-XIOS 6.1

›Volume APIs are used for 1stgeneration copies, if not all LUNs are part of the same CG

•Please understand that there is a limitation on the number of CGs per XtremIO cluster supported, which is 512. AppSync creates linked CGs (copy CGs) for the below use cases:

–During Repurposing workflows only when the source is in a CG

–If all the volumes with the application being repurposed fall into a single common CG

–Each remote repurposing copy creates a new linked CG

VMAX3/PowerMax enhancements:

Enhanced clone target rotation using device relinking. This will necessitate one more set of target devices than the set rotation count.

AppSync can auto provision target devices from storage resource pools when appropriate devices are not available in the configured storage group during protection.

Better handling of unsupported multiple storage resource pool configuration.

Provides an option for copy restore from either the modified target device or the original SnapVX snapshots.

Enhanced copy cleanup of stale snapshots on the array.

TCE enhancements:

Enhanced the Automated Log Collection wizard to collect logs from the AppSync server, AppSync agent hosts, vCenter servers, and SMI-S providers.

Provides an option to forcefully delete a host from AppSync.

Provides an option to consolidate UNIX plug-in host logs into a single file.

Provides an option to enable email alerts for on demand jobs.

Enhanced the repurpose email alerts to include the label in the subject of the email.

Email Alert Enhancements

•Email alerts are now able to be sent for on-demand jobs

–Found by navigating to Settings > AppSync Server Settings

–This notification setting is notset by default

–Applies to on-demand Service Plans and Repurposing workflows

–Expiring copies do not fall into this category –no alerts are sent

–Notifications are sent both for success and failure

•Repurposing workflow email alerts will now show the custom ” label, rather than “Service plan:REPURPOSE”

Mounting as Independent Disks

•Ability to mount copies as Independent Persistent or Independent Non-Persistent Disks

Please note:AppSync does not support the protection of applications on independent non-persistent disks. Users will see an error event like EVENT [SPP_000083]: Application F:\resides on independent non-persistent disk.

•Found by navigating to Mount copy settings of a service plan or repurposing workflow

•Applies to VMware virtual disks on ESXi hosts only

You can now schedule a service plan to run on the last day of every month and set the time with the granularity of 1 minute after the hour for At the frequency of and Every day at scheduling options for both service plans and repurposing workflows.

Prompts the user to configure ESRS gateway for collecting configuration information.

Other enhancements:

Provides an option to mount application copies on a virtual disk as independent disks (both persistent and non-persistent).

Supports the protection of applications on partitions created utilizing the GUID Partition Table (GPT) on Linux agent hosts.

AppSync now sorts the default install-plug-in versions from the latest version to the earliest.

You must now explicitly select a mount host in a service plan.

You can now run CLI commands from a path that does not have the CLI software on it.

Ability to run CLI commands from any path, even one that does not have the CLI-software on it

–Alleviates the need to navigate to the specific CLI path to execute commands

•Resolved an issue where Appsync-SIAMLogs.txt was unable to be created in a directory other than where the CLI was installed

•Appsync-SIAMLogs.txt now gets created either under the system temp location, or in the path specified with the APPSYNC_CLI_LOG_DIR environment variable

–APPSYNC_CLI_LOG_DIR is an environment variable created by the user on that particular host system hosting the CLI software, in order to save the Appsync-SIAMLogsin a defined path

–For Windows, the logs get created under %temp% or in the path as specified in the APPSYNC_CLI_LOG_DIR environment variable

–For Unix, the logs get created under /tmp or in the path as specified in the APPSYNC_CLI_LOG_DIR environment variable

Simplified Workflow(s):

No Default Mount Host / User Must Select

•Requires the user to select a mount host by leaving the selection blank by default

•Previously listed the original/source host selected, which can cause mounting failures/conflicts

•This applies to new Service Plans only –existing service plans are not automatically modified

Default Install Plug-In Version

•The default plug-in version to push/install displays the latest (most up-to-date) version

•Previous versions displayed the oldest version from the drop-down, making it easy to accidently downgrade the plug-in, rather than upgrade the plug-in

Ability to Forcefully Delete a Host

•Ability to forcefully remove a host from the AppSync UI, even if the AppSync database maintains records

Flexible Scheduling Options

•Ability to set the At the frequency of and Every day at with a granularity of one minute after the hour

–Applies to both service plans and repurposing workflows

•Ability to set the Specified days of the month setting to a new value called last day of the month

–Alleviates the need to create a new plan and change the schedule based on the month

•AppSync will not check for any copy dependency on the server and deletes all internal meta data related to this server. User needs perform all cleanup tasks, such as unmounting copies from the server, cleaning up copies on the array, and uninstalling/removing the plug-in

This release also contains the following fixes:

You can download AppSync 3.8 by clicking the screenshot below

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